While studying the Bahai Faith, one is constantly led to believe that the Bahai Faith is the "new" Universal religion - a religion with universal laws; a religion which has replaced all faiths like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam to name a few. Read any Bahai teaching material and this aspect hits you in the face - that the Bahai Faith is a Universal religion. Visit any Bahai web site and you will feel that the Bahai Faith is the "next big idea" when it comes to uniting religions and establishing a universal religion. This position has been hammered to such an extent that a novice to the Faith might actually start believing in it.

I have been a student of the Faith for some time - and would like to believe that I have dug deeper than even most Bahais in the quest for truth. And my studies have thrown up some amazing facts that contradict the very idea of Universality of the Bahai Faith.

What is the meaning of Universal Religion?
Before we move to my findings, I think it would not be out of place to first discuss what we mean by Universal religion. Without going into the dictionary meaning of "Universal", the general understanding when we say that any religion is a Universal religion is that the religion is for all men wherever they may reside - that the laws of that Universal religion would be binding equally upon every human being irrespective of where he stayed, worked or traveled.

For example, Muslims consider Islam to be the final Universal Religion. And there are several reasons for that. Some of them are mentioned in the Quran itself. Sample these verses:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا

'Say: O people! surely I am the Apostle of Allah to you all'
(Sura Aaraf, verse 158)

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا كَافَّةً لِّلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا
وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

'We have not sent you but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.'
(Sura Saba, verse 28)

If a person accepts Islam, the laws of Islam would be binding upon him and from that very moment he would be expected to follow all rules of Islam. And this law has been the same since the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh). Whenever a group of people accepted Islam, they were taught the rules of Islam (prayers etc) and were expected to follow those rules without exception no matter where they resided or which tribe/family they belonged to.

Is the Bahai Faith a Universal Religion?
Before answering that question, lets look at some of the Abrahamic faiths. We know that Judaism and Christianity introduced laws that were aimed at the entire Bani Israel. Laws applied to every Israelite without exception. Likewise, Islamic laws are applicable to all Muslims regardless of his race, colour, region, tribe, etc. All Muslims are equal in front of Allah and the only criterion on which a Muslim can hope to get a concession is piety.

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

'…surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the most pious…'
(Sura Hujarat, verse 13)

However, this feature is absent in the Bahai Faith, which claims to be the new Universal religion. The Bahai Faith is still not a Universal religion and even considers the Jewish order to be superior to it. Surprised? Well don't be! The Universal House of Justice (UHJ) clearly states that it is not permissible to teach the Bahai Faith to Israelites. And this edict exists even today. (Read the edict) I would like to ask why. If the Bahai Faith, as it so claims, was the religion which came to unite all the religions, then why not the Jews of Israel? Are they not worthy that they be introduced to the Faith? When Moses (a.s.) who came to rescue Bani Israel did not make exceptions for Israelites, then how can a faith that is purportedly superior to Judaism make exceptions for them? In fact, this would make Judaism superior to the Bahai Faith.

Or is it that the Bahais have a clandestine arrangement with Israel that in exchange of the permission to reside in Israel, the Bahais would not try and convert any Jews? And it is interesting that only Jews living in Israel are off-limits for Bahai missionaries. Christians and Muslims living in Israel are welcome targets for Bahais to introduce their 'Universal' doctrine.

With the existence of such an edict, how can one claim to be a Universal religion?

Some of my other amazing findings about the Faith include:
1. The laws of The Aqdas were not applicable to America as late as 1974! (Read the edict)
2. Some laws of The Aqdas were not applicable globally as late as 1999! (Read the edict)

You can click on the links next to each of the above statements and actually view the edicts of the Universal House of Justice (UHJ) in this regards.

Why were these laws not applicable universally? Why did it take 150 years for the laws to become applicable in a country like America?

For the benefit of my readers, here are a few more quotations,

"For your information, the people in Israel have access to factual information about the Faith, its history and general principles. Books concerning the Faith are available in libraries throughout Israel, and Israelis are welcome to visit the Shrines and the surrounding gardens. However, in keeping with a policy that has been strictly followed since the days of Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'ís do not teach the Faith in Israel. Likewise, the Faith is not taught to Israelis abroad if they intend to return to Israel. When Israelis ask about the Faith, their questions are answered, but this is done in a manner which provides factual information without stimulating further interest."
(Ref: The Universal House of Justice, 1995 Jul 23, Teaching Israelis)

"Whenever an Israeli citizen living in the West, irrespective of his background and religious affiliation, declares his belief and interest in becoming a member of the Bahá'í community, he should be informed that the Faith is not taught in Israel and that there is no Bahá'í community there apart from those who are associated with the Bahá'í World Center. He cannot be accepted into the Bahá'í community if he is planning to return to Israel to reside there.

"If he plans to continue to reside outside Israel, his enrollment can be accepted, but he will then be subject to the same restrictions about travel to Israel as any other Bahá'í, in that he could do so only with the express permission of the Universal House of Justice. In any event, the Universal House of Justice should be informed of any such declaration.

(Ref: Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 20, 1994, to several National Spiritual Assemblies.")

(Compilations, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities)

The Bahai Faith seeks to mislead humanity under the garb of being a Universal religion. Its laws even today are not globally applicable and depending upon its convenience, the UHJ releases edicts from time to time. If the Faith were truly global, then these laws would have been equally applicable to all individuals from the time of Bahaullah itself. Otherwise what this means is that Bahaullah left a legacy of an imperfect, evolving faith to his successors, which debunks the Bahai Faith's claim of being the next progressive link to Islam. Islam as is evident from the Quranic verses was completed and perfected by Allah before the passing away of the Prophet (This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion - Surah Maidah, verse 5).

Having understood this, it is therefore surprising how Tahera Qazvini in Badasht claimed that "Islam was abrogated" that too by the Babi Faith, which was even more incomplete and evolving than the Bahai Faith. And was only Islam (a religion made perfect by Allah) that was abrogated or even other religions like Christianity and Judaism. Judaism certainly did not (and does not) seem to be abrogated a fact that is evident from the wariness of the Bahais to spread the Faith among the Jews residing in Israel. And if Judaism is not yet abrogated, then it stands to question how Christianity can be abrogated, since it is a consequence of Judaism and of course Islam abrogated Christianity.

It is also pertinent to note if the Bahai Faith is more perfect than non-Abrahamic, polytheist faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism. In my interaction with my Hindu and Buddhist friends, especially from countries like India and Sri Lanka, I certainly don't hear of the Bahai Faith openly suggesting that it has abrogated these religions in their own countries. For that matter it would be interesting to note what the Bahai Faith has to say to Christians in Rome or the Vatican or to Muslims in the Middle East!

If the Bahai Faith is Universal, its message should go out unequivocally (and not in dissimulation - taqaiyya) to practioners of all faiths it claims to have abrogated. Else it should come out in the open and declare unequivocally, who is its real target audience. If it's particularly the Muslims, then it should assert as much, and not dilute its call by roping in other faiths which in any case don't seem to meet with the Bahai approval for full-fledged propagation and conversion.

Also read: Bahai Religious Teachings: Confusion Compounded?

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